A Complete Guide to Sunrise Amphitheater Weddings

Sunrise Amphitheater wedding ceremony in Boulder Colorado

Everything you need to know about planning a Sunrise Amphitheater wedding at one of the most beautiful outdoor ceremony venues in Boulder County!

After ten years in Boulder, I’ve put together one of the most comprehensive guides to Sunrise Amphitheater wedding and elopement ceremonies on the web. I’ll show you how to apply for a permit, the best time of day for ceremonies, and give you ideas for different reception venues where you can continue the party.

If you’ve landed here, chances are high you’re considering Sunrise Amphitheater as your own ceremony venue. (Or you’re a photographer who wants to shoot there – I promise there’s some good stuff in this guide for you too!)

Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about having a wedding at Sunrise Amphitheater?

Great! Let’s get to it.

About the author

I’m Nina Larsen Reed, a wedding photographer based right here in Boulder. I’ve lived here for almost a decade, and I’ve been capturing Coloradans since 2012. Sunrise Amphitheater has been one of my favorite venues in town since before I even moved here. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, and this venue is featured in The Stand, that he set right here in Boulder!

Chapter 1: Why you should rent Sunrise Amphitheater for your wedding

There are many options for wedding reception venues in Boulder (over thirty of them, in fact), but none of them have ceremony views quite like Sunrise Amphitheater. With the impressive circular stone benches and a breathtaking view over Boulder, it’s the perfect choice for any couple who loves the mountains. 

If you want to make the mountains part of your wedding day, then party it up with your people in the happiest town in the country, you can have the best of both worlds when you combine a ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater with a reception at one of the many Boulder wedding venues. 

There are many reasons why you should rent Sunrise Amphitheater for your wedding, but here are some of my top reasons: 

  • It has the best views in Boulder. There, I said it. 
  • Your guests will have a great time seeing the best of Boulder.
  • You can dress up the venue or keep it simple and let the views speak for themselves. 
  • You can combine it with any style of reception venue. 
  • It’s very affordable!

Are you convinced that you should have your wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater yet? Let me show you how to make it happen!

Wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder Colorado
Bride and groom first kiss at wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder Colorado

Chapter 2: Best timing for a Sunrise Amphitheater wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder Colorado

First things first; you need to choose a date for your wedding. You can look up the availability for Sunrise Amphitheater on Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks’ website. You can reserve the venue up to two years in advance of your wedding date.

Next, you’ll need to choose a time of day for your ceremony. Sunrise Amphitheater is available in the following time blocks:

6:00 am – 7:00 am Perfect for couples who want to exchange their vows at sunrise. This one-hour rental is generally not long enough for a ceremony with more than 25 guests, as it always takes people a while to get settled in, and leave after. It’s also best for ceremonies without any decorations. On the bright side, the light is magical here this early in the morning, and there are hardly any tourists around even on busy weekends.

7:00 am – 8:00 am Similar to the earlier time slot, but a little warmer and brighter since the sun is fully up now. Very little traffic still, even on weekends.

8:00 am – 9:00 am Similar to the two earlier time slots, but there are now starting to be more hikers and tourists on Flagstaff.

10:00 am – 1:00 pm This three-hour time slot is great for ceremonies with brunch or early afternoon receptions. It’s enough time for decorations, if you’re having elaborate florals or a ceremony arch. And it leaves enough time for your guests to enjoy the amphitheater without having to rush out of there after your ceremony. The light can be harsh in the middle of the day, but there’s less chance of thunder storms than later in the afternoon. Expect the area to be busy on weekends.

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Similar to the earlier time, but with more chance of thunder storms than earlier or later in the day. The light is very direct on the “stage” area at this time of day, but it does mean that your guests aren’t facing into the sun. Less busy than the earlier time slot, but still plenty traffic up and down Flagstaff.

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Less direct sun than the earlier time slot, which means more pleasant temperatures in the heat of summer. Depending on the time of year, part of the rental will be after dark. Less busy than the earlier three-hour time slots.

Once you’ve picked a date and time for your ceremony, it’s important to make sure your choice of reception venue is available on the same date! Skip down to Chapter 5 to see my top suggestions for venues that you can combine with a ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater. 

Chapter 3: How to rent Sunrise Amphitheater for your ceremony

When you’ve decided on a date and time for your wedding, renting Sunrise Amphitheater is a simple process.

  1. Go to the Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks website
  2. Select Sunrise Amphitheater from Shelter Rentals.
  3. Pick your date and time
  4. Select the approximate number of guests. It’s okay if this changes later!
  5. Fill out the form, pay the rental fee, and you’re all set!

The three hour rental fee is $400 for non-residents and $300 for residents of Boulder, CO. The one hour rental fee is $150 for non-residents and $100 for residents of Boulder.

If you have any questions about the rental process, I recommend that you talk directly with the Boulder OSMP staff. They’ll always have the most specific and up-to-date information!

Bride and groom portrait in the woods at Sunrise Amphitheater wedding ceremony venue in Boulder
Wedding party photos in the rain after Sunrise Amphitheater ceremony in Boulder

Chapter 4: Where to go for photos before or after your Sunrise Amphitheater ceremony

Sunrise Amphitheater is of course a gorgeous place for photos in itself. But most couples choose to do photos in one or more other locations on Flagstaff Mountain as well, to get a variety of backdrops and looks.

Here are some of my favorite spots in Boulder for wedding photos, that are easy to combine with a ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater.

Lost Gulch

St Julien Wedding Photographer Boulder, Lost Gulch wedding portraits, Colorado wedding photographer, mountain wedding photos

Lost Gulch is a local favorite for a reason: you get epic mountain views with very little effort. It’s a beautiful spot for wedding photos, but I don’t recommend it for weekend weddings unless you’re okay with having lots of strangers around. There are some more private spots where we can tuck away, but the best views and angles are open and used by all.

Artist Point

Artist Point wedding photos on Flagstaff mountain in Boulder, Colorado

Artist Point is only a short walk or drive away from Sunrise Amphitheater, and the perfect spot to sneak away for portraits after your ceremony. It doesn’t have the most expansive views, but in exchange there are fewer people around, and often plenty of deer!

Chautauqua Park

Bride and groom portraits at Chautauqua with views of the Flatirons, Boulder wedding photographer, Colorado wedding photographer, St Julien wedding with mountain wedding photos

It wouldn’t be Boulder without mentioning Chautauqua, so here it is! You have to drive right past Chautauqua to get to or from Sunrise Amphitheater, so it’s the perfect spot to stop for photos if you want those classic views of the Flatirons. Just be prepared for lots of shouts of “congratulations” from all the hikers down here on the weekends!

Halfway House

Halfway House is another of Boulder OSMP’s shelter rentals, but you don’t have to rent the venue to stop there for photos on your way up or down Flagstaff. It’s a beautiful spot to combine Flatiron views with hiking trails and woods, and with way fewer people in the background than at Chautauqua!

Chapter 5: Choosing a reception venue for your Boulder wedding

Most couples who get married at Sunrise Amphitheater choose a second location for their reception. And with over 30 venues to choose from in Boulder County, you’re guaranteed to find one you love!

These are my absolute favorite reception venues to combine with a ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater.

1. Rembrandt Yard

Rembrandt Yard wedding photographer, Boulder wedding photographer, Colorado Jewish wedding, reception room decor

Outdoor ceremony combined with reception at an art gallery in downtown Boulder? It doesn’t get much better than that! This is by far one of the most popular ceremony and reception venue combos in town. Rembrandt Yard can also double as a backup ceremony venue, in case one of the infamous Colorado thunder storms come through.

2. The Riverside

The Riverside industrial chic wedding venue on Boulder Creek

The Riverside is a historic building right on the creek in downtown Boulder. With a huge outdoor patio and an indoor reception room with exposed brick walls, it’s a great reception venue for when you’re not ready to move the party fully indoors.

3. Flagstaff House

Flagstaff House Restaurant, Boulder wedding venue

Flagstaff House has the best patio views of any Boulder wedding venue – and the best food, too! This restaurant has won countless awards over the years, including “100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America.” And with an easy location down-hill from Sunrise Amphitheater, it’s the perfect place for foodie receptions.

4. Dushanbe Teahouse

Dushanbe Teahouse Boulder wedding venue

Dushanbe Teahouse is one of the most unique Boulder wedding venues. The building was a gift from Dushanbe, Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan, and was built there by over 40 artisans before being shipped to Boulder and put together here! It’s a popular choice for intimate weddings, and receptions can be held either on the patio by the creek or inside the teahouse.

5. Chautauqua Dining Hall

Chautauqua Dining Hall, historic Boulder wedding venue

The Chautauqua Dining Hall was built in 1898, and has been hosting weddings for over 100 years now! Hold your ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater, then drive down Flagstaff to Chautauqua for cocktail hour on the covered wrap-around porch, then finishing the evening with dinner and dancing inside the dining hall.

Chapter 6: Sunrise Amphitheater Rental Rules & Regulations

Bride walking her dog on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder after a wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater

Boulder OSMP Facility Rules & Regulations

  • No glass containers anywhere on OSMP land: no wine glasses, champagne bottles, glass vases, etc. You can use and break glass for religious ceremonies if done on a sturdy tarp, and all glass is contained and removed.
  • Use of live bands and amplification is restricted. You can use a microphone for the ceremony, as long as the noise is not disturbing other visitors. There is no electricity at Sunrise Amphitheater.
  • You cannot start any form of fire there: no candles, sparklers, or any other open flame.
  • The facilities must be left in a clean and orderly condition.
  • Under no circumstances are signs, balloons, or any other items to be nailed, pinned, stapled or otherwise attached to any tree, park sign, facility, and/or along the roadways.
  • No rice, confetti, birdseed, flower petals or straw shall be used at events.
  • All attendees not displaying a Boulder County license plate must have a parking permit.
  • You cannot erect any tents or other structures at the amphitheater.

Read the full rules & regulations directly on the City of Boulder’s website.

Chapter 7: Boulder Wedding Vendors

Looking for the best wedding vendors in Boulder? Here are my absolute favorite people and companies to work with for weddings and elopements at Sunrise Amphitheater

Do you want to get married at Sunrise Amphitheater?

If you’re ready to plan your own wedding or elopement at Sunrise Amphitheater, I would love to help you capture the big day. Get in touch and let’s make it happen!